For more than one year now, the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) has fostered relationships with civil society, government institutions and elected representatives from every corner of East Africa’s largest country.

The International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Internews have now found their place in Tanzania through the CEPPS-funded Tanzania: Peace & Election Program. This diverse CEPPS program tackles challenges in Tanzania’s electoral system by strengthening independent election monitoring bodies, assessing election institutions, encouraging civil society engagement in the election process and reducing biased and provocative journalism practices.

Through the CEPPS program, IRI supports newly elected Tanzanian officials, who often have little or no prior experience in government, to fulfil their roles and responsibilities as representatives of the voices of thousands of constituents. IRI has worked with these representatives over the past several months in the capital city, Dodoma, to develop strategies to connect with their constituents, understand local priorities and make themselves available to those they represent. Now, IRI is helping MPs to put those outreach plans into action in their home constituencies. From Chake Chake constituency on Pemba Island in Zanzibar, to Lindi Town on Tanzania’s southeast Indian Ocean coast, to the mountains of Mbeya region in the country’s southwest and Bunda on the shores of Lake Victoria, IRI has helped Tanzanian MPs implement their constituency outreach plans and interact with the citizens they represent.

In Chake Chake in particular, IRI helped Hon. Yusuf Kaiza Makame develop a constituency outreach plan that aimed to build his relationship with women entrepreneurs, small-scale businesses and secondary school teachers and students. With IRI’s help, he conducted town-hall style meetings with each of those groups, connecting with citizens on a personal level to expand his understanding of their challenges and aspirations in Chake Chake. Experiences like these, made possible by the CEPPS program, have allowed citizens to build stronger relationships with their elected officials, gain a greater understanding of electoral processes and raise their voices to government institutions throughout Tanzania.

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